The ties that bind

2009-11-16 00:00

TO say that the Zimbabwe situation is complex is to state the obvious. And to see that the problems in that unfortunate country have been allowed to continue for so long is just bizarre.

How does one explain how even with all the time and money that has been spent on trying to bring about an end to the madness in that country, we are still nowhere near realising that objective?

No wonder some people have said that the Zimbabwe situation will only be solved the day President Robert Mugabe is removed from power. It is a proposition that many people who love that country and its people are being forced, painfully, to consider seriously, as that country continues to slide towards a catastrophe.

There are many reasons why this is a tragic and painful consideration. First, many Zimbab-weans, especially in Matebeleland, have blood links with the Zulus in this country, having fled from here during the time of King Shaka when he was building the Zulu nation.

Second, during our own liberation struggle, many freedom fighters from the African National Congress, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) sought shelter and refuge in Zimbabwe, which they were provided with. The South African racist regime, in turn, launched cross-border attacks on Zimbabwe, killing many innocent people, including women and children.

Some of our freedom fighters even took part in the Chimurenga (Shona for revolutionary struggle) against the Ian Smith regime in the then Rhodesia. This was because all freedom fighters from Zimbabwe and South Africa had long realised that they were fighting the same evil, racism.

When Zimbabwe became free in 1980, after waging a courageous people’s revolution, it brought hope to many in this country, as we were waging our own struggle against the apartheid regime.

For us, it was only a matter of time before we also raised our clenched fists and AK-47s as a victory salute to our freedom, signalling an end to war. It is history now that things did not quite take that route, but that the leadership chose a negotiated settlement to bring apartheid rule to an end.

The point is that the liberation of Zimbabwe gave freedom-loving South Africans hope that freedom was more than possible in our lifetime. This is why South Africans can never wash their hands of the Zimbabwe situation. We will continue searching for a lasting solution to its problems.

Having said that, we must also admit that the Mugabe government has contributed to a lot of pain and suffering of its people, and many of them have ended up as refugees in South Africa and elsewhere.

We have to continue and say that the Zimbabwean situation has to end now, or it will drag all of us into an abyss. It is time that we put an end to it.

When Ugandan president, Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada continued to cause havoc in that country in the seventies, Africa and the international community looked on helplessly and it was left to the late Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere, to dislodge him.

Am I suggesting that Mugabe be physically removed? The answer is a definite no. But everything has its limit. By all means the Southern African Development Community (SADC) must talk to all the role players in Zimbabwe and do everything they can to bring about a lasting solution.

However, while doing this, it needs to be pointed out to all the Zimbabwean leaders, especially Mugabe, that there is a limit to what the SADC and the African Union are prepared to do before tougher actions are brought in to play. This is because neither the SADC nor the AU can allow themselves to be complicit in the destruction and despair that is going on in Zimbabwe, for which Mugabe is principally responsible.

• Bhungani kaMzolo is a former journalist now working for the government. Here he writes in his personal capacity.

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